I was walking through a home decorating store and I saw the sign that changed my day. Distressed wood, perfectly painted, it was beautiful and funny.
“Just trying to keep the kids alive”.
I laughed. Oh so true, mom goals of the day. As I walk though the store with a soon to be three year old, coming to the end of what I am assuming was a cold that hit our home early last week, I was exhausted. I felt so tired and I know I looked it.
As I kept pushing the cart I felt for myself and other moms who were “just trying to keep the kids alive”. All the moms that give and give and give. The moms who try and are tired. You know the mom who is equally tired with a screaming child heading out to the car? The one you share a glance with as if to say, “fear not, I’ve been there, you are doing great, I have no judgment”; you know, that mom. As, I again chuckled at the sign- she laughed at me. My sweet girl. She didn’t know why we laughed, but she saw her mother, who doesn’t laugh often enough, laugh. You know what she did? She seized the moment. She wouldn’t waste a laugh with the tired mom whom she loves and so… she laughed.
My eyes filled up, she saw me and she loved me. She didn’t see a tired mom, but she saw her mother. She was still tired and cranky, but she was perfect in her innocence. Looking into her big beautiful eyes, I could feel the presence of choice, to lean into what I felt the Father was trying to say, or to continue on. As I leaned in I felt the sweet whisper that flows from the Holy Spirit. Just try to
keep the kids alive enjoy them.
The sweetness of the Holy Spirit and His prompting. What if my goal changed? What if I took the advice from the older generations who nearly all have the same answer when young mothers try and glean the wisdom they contain?
“Enjoy them, the time they are little is so short”, “Enjoy them, the days are long but the years short”, “Enjoy them, they grow too fast!”, “Enjoy them, they are off before you know it”, “Enjoy them, you can never have today back”, “Enjoy them, you never know when it will be the last time they need help tying their shoe or the last time you carry them”, “You will never look back and wish you did more dishes or more house work, but you will wish you enjoyed them and every moment you have with them”.
Ah, Enjoy them. We live in a culture that values a lot of things, money, fame, outward appearance, being beyond busy; enjoyment of the everyday I don’t think that would make the list. For a moment I truly had to look inward to see my values. Over time we grow, at times getting pulled in by the world, we need to take inventory about what our current beliefs are that are running our life. If I value and believe in enjoying my children daily, then that is something that I will accomplish. The truth is, WHATEVER we value will hold a prominent place in our lives. It’s hard sometimes, truly taking a look at who you are, what you value, and how the culmination of those things are playing out within our own lives. Thankfully, there is no time like the present to do this!
Psalm 127: 3
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
In all honesty my goal as a parent has not been to enjoy my kids. If someone were to approach saying “FOUR kids, look at the REWARD you have!” I’m not sure the old me would would automatically think, “yes, such a reward”. Western culture is ingrained to look at raising children as “work”, “hardship”, “sacrifice”- being exhausted is a badge of honor. If you’re not exhausted you’re not working hard enough. I of course had goals as a parent. To raise them right? Of course! To teach them about the Wonderful Father? Absolutely! But to enjoy them? Maybe?
Ah, but isn’t it funny or ironic or truly perfect timing how and when the Father chooses to appear? Yes, we too must seek, but sometimes we are Saul and get knocked down by the bright light. All these wonderful thoughts and scriptures were playing out before me as I continued to look at my daughter and push the cart. What would my day look like if I chose to enjoy my children. How different would my life be if while giving them guidance and raising them in the way they should go it was a joyous… enjoyment?
Over time, enjoyment would become a new habit within our home, and we would work hard to maintain and protect this newfound attitude. Enjoyment of our children doesn’t mean that we have to sacrifice on other important areas. A clean house helps me thrive and cooking nutritional meals for my children is something that I won’t compromise on. Besides, having a disaster of a house and kids not thriving because they aren’t getting the nutrition they need, sounds nothing like enjoyment. Enjoyment is an outlook. It is a choice. A choice that we decide to make with each mess, with every attitude, and within the very moments that make up the day. When enjoyment of our children is a priority, than we began to connect with them. As our connection to our children grows, other areas begin to fall into place. Especially our children’s attitude toward us and how they begin to show more love and respect. A child will thrive in an environment that values enjoyment and celebrated as a reward for our lives. Especially, since we had worn the badge of exhausted, run down, busy mom for far too long. When we wear these badges we are telling our children they are more of a burden than an enjoyment. No child can feel like a reward, if we don’t communicate that they are a wondrous gift.
By no means have I mastered this, while certain aspects have been a growing part of my life. Other areas are new. Parenting is a journey, a life filled with learning. Each new stage takes different tools and each child is so uniquely different. However, all children want to be enjoyed. The more they are treated as the gifts they truly are the more our home is transformed bit by bit into Heaven on Earth. We expand the Kingdom of Heaven a bit further.
How would your life change if enjoying your children became a priority? Or if the joy of the Lord was the badge of honor you worked hard to protect daily?